Summary: God accepts ALL sorts of people in his family -- and we need to as well!
We continue our study of the Book of Acts, and we now come to chapter 10. It opens with a Gentile soldier named Cornelius, who is told by God in a vision to send for Peter. Meanwhile, Peter is in another town and it’s late in the afternoon and he is tired and hungry. Someone starts preparing a meal for him, and while he waits, he falls asleep and dreams of food.
The description of Peter’s dream begins in verse 11…
11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.
12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.
13 Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."
14 "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate.
18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you.
20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."
21 Peter went down and said to the men, "I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?"
What follows is that Peter accepts this invitation. And Peter and Cornelius have a conversation – two people of two cultures – and we pick up in verse 34.
34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”
This passage continues with Peter preaching about Jesus and the Resurrection. Up until this time, Christianity was largely a Jewish religion. Jesus was a Jew. The first believers were Jews. Jesus came to fulfill Jewish prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. But now the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people begin to accept Christ as Savior, and this is a radical turn of events for those who may have thought that Jesus was only for the Jews.
We pick up in verse 45…
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,
47 "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."
48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
When I was growing up, my family got together for big dinners all the time.
We ate in different homes, and every one of them was different.
At my sister’s house, she was young and newly married, so we would sit at individual TV trays and eat frozen dinners.
At my grandmother’s house, we always ate using her china and her silver.
But the one I loved most was Aunt Mattie’s house. It was great. She and Uncle Roy were farmers and lived in the country and their food was freshly grown.
Now, one thing about Aunt Mattie is that she could talk up a storm. And one day we all sat down at the table to eat, and Aunt Mattie is going on and on about something and not one of us was paying her one bit of attention.
We are all waiting for her to stop talking so we could have the blessing and start eating.
Uncle Roy finally had enough of it and started praying.
Aunt Mattie kept talking.
Uncle Roy’s prayer started with, “Dear God! Thank you for the food that is on this table. It gives me hope that my wife will start entin’ and stop talkin’.”
Aunt Mattie kept talking throughout the whole prayer.
We started eating. And the food was great, and we all grew silent. Even Aunt Mattie stopped talking.
And after dinner Aunt Mattie finally asked, “Did we remember to pray and give thanks?”
Christians give thanks at mealtime. It is a great tradition to pause for prayer and give thanks before eating.